By Matthew Brady
A mere week ago, Shrewsbury manager Paul Hurst would have jumped at the chance to square off against local rivals Port Vale.
Back-to-back defeats have taken the gloss off their revival under the stewardship of Hurst, who hadn’t lost a match since taking over from Mickey Mellon. But those two losses in quick succession have given them that familiar sinking feeling.
Shrews supporters are expected to put the defeat behind them and fully back their side on Saturday in what is sure to be a full-blooded encounter.
West Mercia police have increased the usual police presence for the fixture to control what is sure to be a boisterous, bumper crowd at Greenhaus Meadow.
Proportionate policing plan in place for Shrewsbury Town's fixture against Port Vale https://t.co/BZ7AOpUs1l
— West Mercia Police (@WMerciaPolice) November 25, 2016
Port Vale have had a similar week to Shrewsbury, losing 2-0 to managerless Charlton before a 94th minute equaliser denied them three points against Oldham in midweek.
Their downturn in form could partly be attributed to the ongoing saga surrounding club joint-captain Anthony Grant, who handed in a transfer request this summer.
The combative midfielder has struggled this season and last week was suspended until Boxing Day by the FA following a full-time altercation with a referee.
Grant, who had already been sent off, returned to the pitch to remonstrate with the referee over what he felt was an unfair dismissal. He’ll now serve a five-match ban.
The mood at Vale Park isn’t all doom and gloom however, as new striker Rigino Cicilia has swapped sun and sand for Stoke-On-Trent, and Bruno Ribeiro has been impressed. Cicilia, from Curacao in the Caribbean, has found the net in three consecutive home league games.
Ribeiro has hinted he could earn a derby day starting berth: “Rigino is a very good player. He has done well. He now has a good chance to start at Shrewsbury. He works hard.”
Cicilia’s chances of starting will have been boosted following the news that fellow striker Anton Forrester has been ruled out of the game – he limped off at half time in midweek.